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World of Costume

Review: The Favourite (2018)

The Favourite‘ (2018) is an upcoming historical drama about Queen Anne of Great Britain (Olivia Coleman) and her two favourites, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), and Abigail Hill, Baroness Masham (Emma Stone). It was shown at the Vancouver International Film Festival in early October.

Set in the early 1700’s, this dark (literally and figuratively) comedy is unlike other films on historical royals. Do not expect to see colourful gowns, elegantly choreographed dances, or hear pleasant Baroque music. Instead, in the eight chapters of the film, you’ll see women in monochromatic costumes, some scenes in fisheye lens, and hear plenty of profanity. The worst for me was the repetitive note(s) played on an organ or violin or some other instrument to signify that something was about to happen. The cacophony was like musical torture!

In fact, the second trailer of ‘The Favourite’ is a perfect summary of the film:

Here’s what I did like, however:

  • The beautifully captured scenes from Hatfield House and Hampton Court Palace. You’ll want to visit these two places if you haven’t already!
  • Although it caught me completely off guard, the part-historical, part-anachronistic goofy dances were hilarious!
  • Filming in the dark with only candles or fire for light.
  • Olivia Colman was marvellous as Queen Anne. Her character portrayal reminded me of Nigel Hawthorne’s King George III in The Madness of King George (1994), which made me realise that we don’t usually see queens portrayed as mad or eccentric. For those who probably don’t know anything about royalty, I’m afraid they may walk out believing Queen Anne was completely cuckoo and not remember her for how she suffered 17 miscarriages, stillbirths, and child bereavement. That does something to a woman, be she low-born or a queen!
  • Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone were also superb, especially the latter in her transition from a naive young woman to ruthless schemer.
  • Spoiler: The cute bunnies hopping around Queen Anne’s bedroom!

Overall: 6.5/10

This rating is based on my personal preference. Although I do not regret watching it, I would not rewatch it. If you plan on seeing this movie, remember that it is meant to be a comedy and is a work of fiction. I am not completely familiar with Queen Anne’s life but it seems that this film is loosely based on Sarah’s view of the Queen after she had been discarded for Abigail.

The Favourite‘ premieres in the US on 23 November 2018 and on New Year’s Day 2019 in the UK.